I’ve never been much for political correctness, and it has nothing to do with politics. I’d just rather say things the way they are rather than euphemize (is that a word?) and try not to offend. Of course, I grew up in the day when we kept score in Little League, it was possible to actually fail a test, and some kids were told they weren’t as talented in some areas as other kids. We even voted people as “most likely to succeed”, “best looking”, and “class clown” in high school. Imagine the horror!Saw an exec talk about confirmed facts of his company the other day. He referred to the things that were likable as “positives” and the things that were, errr, not as likable, as “challenges“. I suppose that’s exec-speak, but I found it a bit tiresome. These were really “the things we do well” and “the things that we need to do better at”. Everybody knew the facts already — they were not “cerebrally challenged” — so trying to lessen the blow with “challenges” was a bit of a slap in the face to those wanting the straight story. When it’s stated in a toned down form, people tend to think the speaker is “fecally plenary“, and doubt there is desire to address the real problems.I suppose there is always a danger of offending someone with straight talk — people don’t like to hear that they aren’t doing things well or are falling short. But if that’s the truth… And if they already know…The positive to telling the straight truth is people know where they stand. For internal messaging, people typically want the truth, and all of it. All of it, of course, cannot be shared, but for that which is able to be public consumed, I think people will respond positively to straight talk. Rule #1 always applies, but consider cutting out all uses of buzzwords, softened euphemisms, and side-stepping the 900-pound gorilla, and watch people help you solve problems.Execs of troubled companies (e.g. Delta Airlines) who ask for concessions while everyone knows the speaker has a golden parachute lose trust and, likely, the company they wish to save. Instead of dancing around the issue, a straightforward approach would yield much more credibility and the alliance and support of people who can make a difference (Imagine this as a CEO opener: “I’m heading a company that no one wants to associate with to do a task no one thinks is possible. In order to take this on, I’ve been offered rewards that are not currently accessible to many of you. But my real satisfaction and payoff is if we all are successful in rescuing this sinking ship, and that’s what I intend to do. Here’s what we have to do for that to happen…“). Salesmen who shoot the bull and try to convince people of “facts” they inherently know are false lose more than a sale. Customer Service that refuses to acknowledge problems or claims they are not responsible only angers the customers they are supposed to serve.
When facts are already known, share them bluntly and address them head-on.